Gay and Lesbian Partners Should Have Same Rights as Other Couples, Says Bishop Robinson

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If gay and lesbian people are full citizens of the country and state in which they live, they should be accorded the same rights as other couples, Bishop Gene Robinson has said.

“I am very supportive of the right to marry,” the Anglican Church’s first openly gay Bishop told the Eagle-Tribune newspaper last week. “I don’t think it matters whether you call it marriage or civil union as long as the responsibilities and the benefits are the same.”

And Bishop Robinson revealed that he and his partner of 14 years Mark Andrew would “marry” if New Hampshire legalised marriage or “civil unions” between same-sex partners.

He said the while the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire has been blessing same-sex unions for seven years, he was not in favour of a requirement that the church should bless such unions.

“I think all of the different churches will have to make a decision whether or not to bless these unions,” he said. “Gay marriage or civil union as a civil right is different from what the church does to bless these unions.

“I am very supportive of the right to marry. If gay and lesbian people are full citizens of the country and state in which they live, they should be accorded the same rights as other couples,” he added. “I don’t think it matters whether you call it marriage or civil union as long as the responsibilities and the benefits are the same.”

Bishop Robinson has been criticized for openly living a gay lifestyle, which critics say is in conflict with biblical teachings. Some have said he should remain celibate.

“I believe there are some people called to celibacy, but I don’t believe God called a whole class of people to celibacy. I don’t believe God made gay and lesbian people and then proclaimed they could not have intimate relationships,” he told the Eagle-Tribune. “Celibacy is not a requirement of the Episcopal Church, so why would anyone require me to be celibate?”

The Bishop added that many more people are finding their way to the Episcopal Church than are leaving it as a result of his becoming bishop.

“We are getting all kinds of people coming to the Episcopal Church, not just gays and lesbian people, because of this,” he said. “Many straight couples and their children are coming because they want their children to be raised in a community that accepts all people.”